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Todd Howard

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Todd Howard
Howard in 2010
Born1970/1971 (age 47–48)[1]
Alma materCollege of William & Mary
OccupationVideo game designer, director, producer
Years active1994–present
EmployerBethesda Game Studios
Known forThe Elder Scrolls, Fallout

Todd Howard (born 1970/1971)[1] is an American video game designer, director, and producer. He currently serves as director and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios, where he has led the development of the Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series.

In 2009, GamePro magazine named Howard one of the "Top 20 Most Influential People in Gaming" over the last 20 years.[2] He was also named one of IGN's "Top 100 Game Creators of All Time".[3]

Early life

Todd Howard was born in Lower Macungie Township, Pennsylvania.[4] He developed an interest in computers, particularly video games, at a very young age.[5] He considers Wizardry and Ultima III: Exodus to be inspirations for his future games.[5] He is a 1989 graduate of Emmaus High School in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. In 1993, he graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he double majored in engineering and finance despite his desire to create video games, later saying that "it seemed like the easiest path to get through college".[5]

After playing Wayne Gretzky Hockey, Howard requested a job from a Bethesda Softworks office he encountered each day on his commute to and from school. He was rejected and told that he needed to finish school as a prerequisite. After completing school, he went back to Bethesda for a job but was rejected again.[5]


Bethesda Softworks

Howard joined Bethesda Softworks in 1994.[6] His first game development credit for Bethesda Softworks was as producer and designer of The Terminator: Future Shock and Skynet, followed by design on The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, which was released in 1996. He was the project leader and designer of The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard released in 1998. Howard was the project leader and designer of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and for the expansions that followed. He led the creation of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and all of its downloadable content. After this, he was the game director and executive producer of Fallout 3.[7][8] He said Bethesda's philosophy for The Elder Scrolls games was to allow people to "live another life, in another world".[9]

He returned to The Elder Scrolls series to lead the development of its fifth installment, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was released in November 2011. Howard directed Fallout 4, which was announced with the release of its first official trailer on June 3, 2015.[10][11] He served as the executive producer in Fallout Shelter, Bethesda Game Studios' first mobile game, which was announced and released at the 2015 E3 Showcase.[12][not in citation given]


Howard at Gamelab Barcelona in 2018

Howard is a frequent speaker at industry events, conferences, and in magazine interviews. His games have been featured in Newsweek, CNN, USA Today, and The Today Show.

He spoke to developers at the 2009 D.I.C.E. Summit, sharing his three rules of game development:[13]

  • Great games are played, not made. "You can have the greatest design document ever made, and you're going to change 90 percent of it as soon as you play the game."
  • Keep it simple. "Doing something really well takes time, more time than you think it will. Simple systems acting together create complexity that players can appreciate."
  • Define the experience. "Don't define your game by a list of bullet points... define it by the experience you want people to have."

Howard returned as a keynote speaker at the 2012 D.I.C.E. Summit.[14] He said developers should ignore demographics and installed base, and follow their passions, saying that "if install base really mattered, we'd all make board games, because there are a lot of tables".[15]


Year Title Role(s)
1995 The Terminator: Future Shock Production, additional design
1996 Skynet Production, design
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall Additional design
1998 The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard Project leader, design, writing
2002 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Project leader, original concept
2003 The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon Executive producer
2004 The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey
2006 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
2007 The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles
2008 Fallout 3 Game director
2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2015 Fallout Shelter Executive producer
Fallout 4 Game director
2018 Fallout 76

Awards and recognition

Howard was named "Best Game Director" by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in 2012. In 2014, he received the Lara of Honor, Germany's lifetime achievement award for gaming. Howard is one of a few developers to have created five consecutive Game of the Year award winners, with The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4.[16]


  1. ^ a b Musgrove, Mike (August 15, 2005). "Out of the Dark and Into the Spotlight". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  2. ^ "Around the Web: Interviews edition | Bethesda Blog". May 7, 2009. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  3. ^ "IGN - Top 100 Game Creators of All Time". IGN. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  4. ^ Callahan, Marion (October 28, 2008). "Valley natives have action-packed careers with fairy tale endings". The Morning Call. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Hanson, Ben (January 13, 2011). "Road To Skyrim: The Todd Howard Interview". Archived from the original on March 13, 2014. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  6. ^ How Skyrim's Director Todd Howard Got Into The Industry. Game Informer (YouTube). November 29, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  7. ^ Remo, Chris (October 13, 2008). "Falling Into Fallout 3: Director Todd Howard Talks Scope And Evolution". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on May 8, 2015. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  8. ^ "Fallout 3 Q&A - E3 Thoughts And More". GameSpot. August 2, 2007. Archived from the original on December 19, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  9. ^ Howard, Todd. "The RPG for the Next Generation". Archived from the original on January 24, 2010.
  10. ^ Hussain, Tamoor (June 3, 2015). "Fallout 4 Officially Confirmed for PC, Xbox One, PS4". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  11. ^ "Fallout 4 -- E3 Showcase World Premiere". Bethesda Softworks. June 15, 2015. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  12. ^ "Move over, Candy Crush, Fallout Shelter catapults to #1 app in iTunes Charts". PhoneArena. June 18, 2015. Archived from the original on August 19, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  13. ^ Totilo, Stephen (February 20, 2009). "DICE 2009: The Following Colorful Wisdom Is From Todd Howard". MTV. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  14. ^ "Todd Howard D.I.C.E. 2012 Opening Keynote Address". GameSpot. Archived from the original on November 8, 2016. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  15. ^ Remo, Chris (February 20, 2009). "DICE 09: Bethesda's Howard On Supreme Playability". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  16. ^ Grandstaff, Matt (May 12, 2014). "Bethesda Blog - LARA to Honor Todd Howard". Bethesda Blog. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2014.